Government must take over Fukushima nuclear cleanup — The Japan Times; The Loop

” … In November, Tepco plans to begin the delicate operation of removing spent fuel from Reactor No. 4. There are 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies in a pool above the reactor. They weigh a total of 400 tons, and contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The spent-fuel pool, standing 18 meters above ground, was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami and is in a deteriorating condition. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction. Removing its spent fuel, which contains deadly plutonium, is an urgent task.

Even under ordinary circumstances spent-fuel removal is a difficult task, normally requiring the aid of computers. But due to the damage, removal of spent fuel from Reactor No. 4 and the five other reactors will have to be done manually. This work will be undertaken in arduous conditions, increasing the risk of yet another mishap.

And if something does go wrong, the consequences could be far more severe than any nuclear accident the world has ever seen. If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire. Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan — including Tokyo and Yokohama — and even neighboring countries at serious risk. … ”

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In the same light, hear Andrew Dewit, a professor in the School of Policy Studies at Rikkyo University, explain the risks of removing the 1,300 spent fuel rods at Fukushima Daiichi on The Loop.

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